One of the big pieces of advice that I give to my community and my clients is that it’s actually really important to get OUT of your healthy house and get outside more than we think. We often are stuck indoors due to work or things that need to get done indoors, and so for those reasons it’s important to have a low toxin home. And even more, we sleep at home more often than we don’t, and it can be a great way to support our health and wellness. To have a space free from as many chemicals as possible is critical to our health. But what about when you are enjoying the outdoors with whatever outdoor gear you may need? Do you know how to find PFAS free gear?
It’s often something we don’t think about,but if you’re someone who enjoys a lot of time outdoors (especially in season or activities where you need gear, this can be a HUGE source of toxins in your life. After All, many items that contain PFAS are items that we either wear on our bodies or that we get warm in, causing them to emit even more toxins white we’re in close proximity.
Getting outdoors is such a great way to support your health and wellness, but you have to intentionally choose and use toxin free outdoor gear that is free from PFAS chemicals. And that’s just what I’m sharing with you today — why you need to avoid PFAS, how to shop for PFAS free outdoor gear, and my healthy house approved list of outerwear and gear.
What are PFAS Chemicals?
PFAS have been used since the 1940s when they were introduced to make cookware nonstick, clothes water repellent and fabrics stain resistant. It’s a product that resists grease, water and oil and makes it a very desired chemical.
PFAS were designed to resist breaking down, and so unfortunately they remain in the environment forever. This is why they’ve been labeled a “forever chemical. Currently there are over 90,000 PFAS chemicals that are present, and so it can become very difficult to even test for all of them in third party testing facilities.
While PFAS are used in outdoor gear, they’re also present in our homes and in all throughout our environment and even drinking water. Wherever we can limit these toxins, we’ll be giving our bodies the much needed break it needs from this type of toxin.
PFAS & The Health of World and Our Bodies
PFAS Chemicals have been studied for quite some time now, and while other countries such as Europe, have since learned to avoid this forever chemical, the United States is JUST starting to reduce our exposure to it.
PFAS have been linked to a number of health issues through these studies, which include cancer, liver damage and change to the liver enzymes, decreased fertility, increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease. And many of these links were due to low exposure on a daily basis. (INFO)
It has also been associated with negative impacts to the immune system, endocrine system and reproductive system. (INFO)
Types of Outdoor Gear that Contain PFAS
Jackets & Coats: From rain jackets to outdoor, cold weather coats, so many coats are intended to keep moisture out — which is great, in theory. These coats can not only contain a waterproof outer layer that contains PFAs, but the interior down can also contain PFAS in them as well.
Backpacks: Children’s backpacks and hiking backpacks often have a coating on them to keep moisture out of the interior of the backpack. And oftentimes this coating is made with PFAS to repel the moisture and any stains.
Boots: Hiking boots, rain boots and winter boots alike can all contain PFAS as they try to get the product as water proofed as possible
Hats & Gloves: Anything that’s meant to keep the water out is an item that could potentially contain added toxins. As well, anything with a moisture wicking technology or quick dry technology should be looked at more closely
Baby & Toddler Carrier Backpacks: This one was surprising to me, but those backpacks made to carry children also contain PFAS most of the time. This is to keep your child and you dry from whatever sort of liquid that may potentially come in contact with the backpack.
Tents: Outdoor tents are another one most of us don’t think about. We’re so focused on being outside that we oftentimes forget that we’ll be sleeping in a tent that could contain its own chemicals and toxins. PFAS are added to tents to repel water on the outside of the tent.
Sleeping Bags: This one COULD be the most important in my opinion if you do a lot of camping. Anything that surrounds our body for long periods of time should get special care to determine if it is as low toxin as possible. PFAS are often added in the down or filling to reduce moisture.
Camp Mats: Camp mats also need to resist water and moisture on both the top and the bottom, which means it’s a prime candidate for added PFAS to make it water repellent or moisture resistant.
How to Shop for Toxin Free Outdoor Gear
Look for Brand Transparency: Any brand that is willing to share with you the list of materials used in their products is a brand I’d likely continue to shop with. On the other hand, if it’s really difficult to find out what the materials are or even get a return phone call or email with questions you may have, it may be time to move on to another brand.
Look for European Companies: Just like everything else it seems, Europe definitely has their act together in terms of avoiding and limiting toxin use in their products. In fact, Europe and some of the Nordic countries have been avoiding PFAs for quite a while, whereas in the US, we are still allowing these toxins in our outdoor gear consistently.
Look for Durable Water Repellency (DWR) WITHOUT PFAS: One of the big needs with any sort of outdoor gear is that it has to be waterproof or at least water repellent. DWR is a treatment that is added to outerwear to make the product water repellent. Newer products use things like paraffin, silicone, fat modified resin and wax.
Don’t Always Trust Third Party Certifications: Many third party certifications actually allow for PFAS Chemicals in the product. Bluesign and Zero Discharge or Hazardous Chemicals (ZHC) both allow types of PFAS to be present in products and materials they certify. Okeo-Tex tests for 30 of the over 9,000 PFAS chemicals, but that means the majority of the chemicals could still be present.
Look for Natural Materials: Wool is an excellent insulator and is naturally resistant to moisture, and so finding products that use things like wool, cotton, natural wax coating, etc. can be a great way to find a product that is low toxin in nature. You can also look for natural rubber and 100% organic latex when looking for items that are waterproof.
Healthy House Picks For PFAS Free Gear
While I actually think it’s SO important to get outside and get out of your healthy house now and then, I also think that we need to be careful and intentional about what we choose for ourselves and our family. PFAS are in so many areas of our life and environment that reducing them in any way is going to give your body relief.